Results tagged ‘ Field of Dreams ’

Baldwin and baseball

By Bill Francis

Actor Billy Baldwin is certainly a recognizable face after starring in such films as Backdraft, Sliver and Fair Game, but on Friday he was just another fan of the New York Yankees taking in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum experience with his family.

A member of the famed acting clan that includes brothers Alec, Daniel and Stephen, Baldwin lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., but is spending part of the summer in Skaneateles, N.Y., near Syracuse. When the opportunity arose he jumped at the chance to visit Cooperstown with son Vance, a brother-in-law and two nephews.

“Last year I said, ‘We’re going to Cooperstown while we’re in Skaneateles,’ but we never got around to it,” he said while walking to lunch. “This year I said, ‘I’ll be darned if I come up here for another two or three years and we don’t get there. I am going this year.’”

Before they saw the Museum, Baldwin and his family would receive a behind-the-scenes from Senior Curator Tom Shieber, where the actor was able to hold the bat used by Ted Williams to slug his final home run. Baldwin was certainly impressive in his knowledge of the history of the national pastime, whether it be marveling at the home run prowess of Babe Ruth when measured against the other teams in the league or explaining how Joe DiMaggio’s homer production was hampered by playing his home games at Yankee Stadium. 

Baldwin, who unabashedly admits to balling his eyes out when he watches Kevin Costner play catch with his dad in Field of Dreams, also explained his love of the game that is also evident in his son.

“I don’t know how to articulate it … It’s weird because I consider myself a big baseball fan but I’m not one of those guys who sits down with a pad and pen and does all the stats of every game,” Baldwin said. “I’m a huge baseball fan and I’m a diehard Yankees fan and probably watch or listen to a portion of about 100 games a year.

“But if there’s such a thing as having a metronome for your life, for me it starts with pitchers and catchers and goes all the way through October, hopefully with the Yankees in the postseason,” he added with a grin. “In these trying times with the economy not doing well and all sorts of struggles across the country and around the globe, I don’t want to be constantly reminded of all the tough stuff that’s going on. I find that the number one anecdote for that for me is baseball.”

Thanks to a father who once was an usher at Brooklyn’s beloved Ebbets Field, the Baldwin brothers were exposed to the game at a young age. But Billy Baldwin, with a famed wrestling coach living nearby, eventually turned his attentions to the mat.

“Growing up my favorite game was baseball, and I was best at baseball, but I made a mistake when I was in 10th grade,” he recalled. “I ran with this posse of guys on my wrestling team and we all gave up everything we were doing to wrestle all year and I walked away from baseball.

“Obviously, I have the build of a small basketball player or a baseball player or a tennis player and not a wrestler,” he said jokingly. “I was a pretty good wrestler – I won more than I lost – but I was just more of a natural baseball player. I should have stuck with it.”

As for which of the Baldwin brothers was the best baseball player, Billy claimed it was pretty close between him Daniel, who he said  had “kind of like a Boog Powell type of build” before laughingly sharing stories of concussions the older sibling inflicted on him during childhood.

Bill Francis is a library associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Baseball Film Festival Returns this October

Light_90.jpgBy Stephen Light

“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die; follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.”

The Babe gave this advice to young Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez, who was trying to help his friend Scotty Smalls out of a big pickle after losing his step father’s autographed Ruth ball. The Sandlot easily ranks among my top baseball movies of all time, but what are yours?

7-9-09-Light_FilmFestival.jpgAs manager of museum programs here at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I have some pretty unique opportunities from time to time. But one of my favorite events is our annual Baseball Film Festival, held each fall. The action and suspense of the game have always translated well on the big screen. Think of the list: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Natural, Major League, Pride of the Yankees, Rookie of the Year and I could keep going.

The diversity of entries at our annual film festival makes this event so unique. Take, for example, the 2008 Film Festival: The Best Film Award went to Dreaming in Blue (Fuera de Liga), a documentary on the Cuban team Industriales; The Award for Baseball Excellence went to a film focused on the game’s English origins entitled Base Ball Discovered; and the Award for Filmmaking Excellence went to a humorous short film entitled Gandhi at the Bat, a fictitious account of Gandhi’s one and only plate appearance at Yankee Stadium.

7-9-09-Light_Awards.jpgIn addition to these excellent films, we screened a film about Dummy Hoy, the first successful deaf major leaguer, as well as parts of a miniseries about the New England Collegiate Baseball League. We even had a documentary called Cobb Field: A Day at the Ballpark, which brought to life a full day at the Billings Mustangs old ballpark.

This year’s festival will take place October 2-4, and we recently started accepting submissions. Who knows what great movies are in store?

To be considered for entry into the festival, films must have been released in the last five years and baseball must be a primary or secondary theme of the film. Films may be of any length and genre. If you have a film that meets these criteria, or you know of someone who does, all you need to do to submit your film for consideration is mail two copies to the following address (along with any promotional materials you may have):

Manager of Museum Programs
25 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326

If, like me, you just enjoy watching baseball films, be sure to mark down October 2-4 on your calendar. Tickets to the screenings of each film are free (with the price of Museum admission), and with the fall colors and crisp air, it’s a great time to be in Cooperstown.

Check out these trailers from last year’s films:
Base Ball Discovered
Cobb Field: A Minor League Day at the Ballpark
Dummy Hoy: A Deaf Hero
Eye on the Dream
Gandhi at the Bat
Mathematically Alive: A Story of Fandom

Stephen Light is manager of museum programs at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

7-9-09-Light_FilmFlyer.jpg

As American as baseball and apple pie

Carr_90.jpgBy Samantha Carr

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. – Terence Mann

As demonstrated in this iconic quote from the film Field of Dreams, our National Pastime has reflected and often shaped American culture. It is woven into the very fabric that makes up America. Baseball has a connection and an undeniable relevance to this country, which can be seen simply by looking back at the history of baseball on Independence Day.

7-2-09-Carr_Gehrig.jpgToday, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. – Lou Gehrig

Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig stood in front of a crowd at Yankee Stadium and uttered these now famous words seventy years ago Saturday. The speech took place on Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day, about a month after he learned of his terminal diagnosis. Less than two years later, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – a disease that would one day bear his name – would claim the life of the Iron Horse, who played 2,130 consecutive games for the New York Yankees.

The July 4, 1939, ceremony was held between games of a doubleheader against the Washington Senators in front of fans, dignitaries and former teammates. The Yankees retired his uniform No. 4 – making Gehrig the first player ever afforded that honor. The crowd stood and applauded for two straight minutes following Gehrig’s speech.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum houses numerous artifacts in its collection from both Gehrig’s career and that special day in 1939 – including a 21 inch silver trophy given to Gehrig by his 1939 Yankee teammates. But the connection between July 4 and baseball spans much more than one special day.

The Museum’s collection also contains a glove used by future Hall of Famer Rube Waddell in a 1905 pitching matchup with fellow Hall of Famer Cy Young; and a ball and Yankees cap from Dave Righetti’s no-hitter in 1983.

7-2-09-Carr_RyanNiekro.jpgFor almost 100 years, future Hall of Famers have recorded historic performances on July 4. In 1925, the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia A’s in a classic pitching duel between two future Hall of Famers. Herb Pennock of the Yankees retired the final 21 batters he faced to beat Lefty Grove.

And two soon-to-be Hall of Famers, Nolan Ryan and Phil Niekro, recorded their 3,000th strikeouts on July 4th. Ryan struck out Cesar Geronimo in 1980 and Niekro sat down Larry Parrish in 1984.

Baseball is forever tied to our nation’s history, and as we fire up the grills and make some of our own baseball memories on July 4, it is clear that those ties will not soon be broken.

Happy 4th of July!

You can find the history of any day in baseball on our Web site.

For more on Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech, check out the Induction issue of the Hall of Fame’s Members magazine Memories and Dreams. To become a Member, please click here.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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